Photo Gallery: OTA No. 6 >>
Mother Nature left a slight crack in the door on Thursday, and the Vikings took advantage by practicing outside for the first time this week. Head Coach Leslie Frazier is a strong proponent of practicing outside whenever possible, so you can bet he was happy to get his group outside to close Week 2 of Organized Team Activities.
To commemorate the completion of the 6th OTA of the offseason program, here’s a rundown of the Top 6 plays from Thursday’s practice…
#6 – Ponder-to-Jennings Defeats Zero Blitz
The 3rd to last play of practice was during a team period in which the defense simulated a zero blitz against the 1st-team offense. Ponder took the snap, rolled right to buy a split second and lofted a pass that fell right over the safety and into the hands of a waiting Greg Jennings, who secured the ball and tip-toed in bounds before falling out of the back of the end zone.
#5 – Fade To Ford
To conclude Thursday’s practice, QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson looked left and hit TE Chase Ford with a pinpoint-accurate back shoulder fade, allowing the 6-6, 255-pound Ford to seal off the defender and haul in the TD pass to close practice on a good note for the offense.
#4 – Sanford Saves The Day
WR Jarius Wright has a tendency to sneak by defenses. He did so last year, hauling in a 54-yarder against Detroit in his first game of the season and then a big-time 65-yarder against Green Bay in Week 17. Wright has been up to his old tricks during OTAs as well, but S Jamarca Sanford put a stop to one sneaky Ponder-to-Wright attempt. The diminutive 2nd-year WR got past the CB defending him during a team drill and looked to be wide open striding toward the end zone, but Sanford flew in at the final moment and deflected the pass to prevent a TD.
#3 – Carlson In The Corner
It was a second consecutive solid day of work for TE John Carlson. He was an ace in the deck for Ponder and QB Matt Cassel on Thursday, hauling in a number of passes along the sidelines. His best effort came during 7-on-7 drills when he got over the top of the defense and hauled in a perfectly-placed pass from QB James Vandenberg in the corner of the end zone for a TD.
#2 – Smallest Guy Makes Big Play
Most of the time, CB Marcus Sherels is the smallest guy on the field. But he knows how to make big-time plays, and he did just that early in practice on Thursday. Sherels, who measures in at 5-10, 175 pounds, shadowed WR Joe Webb on a crossing pattern and then leaped high into the air to fingertip grab an INT on a pass coming from the rifle-armed Bethel-Thompson. It was the right read by Bethel-Thompson and a good route by Webb, but Sherels just made a better play.
#1 - Look Mom, One Hand!
There is no question that TE Kyle Rudolph has the complete confidence of Ponder, and it’s because of plays like the one he made midway through practice on Thursday. On one hand it’s fair to wonder why Ponder made this throw, but on the other hand when you discover the throw went to Rudolph you can see why Ponder made the through. During a 7-on-7 period near the goal line, Rudolph ran a fade to the back left corner. Three Vikings were in great position to make a play on the ball, but Ponder found a sliver of daylight, threaded the needle and Rudolph hauled in the pass with one hand before toe-tapping twice to complete the TD connection.